Dental emergencies can be a scary thing to experience. Though they are not usually life-threatening, they require immediate attention from a professional dentist or medical care specialist. Left unchecked, emergency dental situations can lead to more serious oral health issues that can jeopardize your overall health.
What is a Dental Emergency?
A dental emergency is any dental issue that requires prompt and immediate care from a dental professional. It generally includes severe pain, infection, injury, or other condition that requires urgent attention to prevent further damage to the teeth, gums, or surrounding oral tissue. Common urgent dental situations include toothache, abscessed tooth, broken tooth/filling, knocked-out tooth, and uncontrollable bleeding.
Urgent vs. Non-Urgent Emergency Dental Situation
An urgent dental situation is one that requires immediate attention from a dental professional, while a non-urgent emergency can typically be addressed over time through regular dental visits. Examples of urgent dental care needs include significant trauma to the mouth, severe toothache, uncontrolled bleeding, and infections. Examples of non-urgent emergency dental situations include broken fillings, chipped teeth, and mild toothaches.
In order to determine what qualifies as an urgent dental situation, the best rule of thumb is to contact your emergency dentist if there is any pain involved. Dental pain is usually an indication that something needs to be addressed quickly before it gets worse and can cause further damage.
Common Types of Life-Threatening Dental Situations
1. Intense Tooth Pain
Dental pain could be caused by minor issues such as tooth decay or cavities, or it could be caused by something more severe such as an abscessed tooth. If you are experiencing intense and persistent tooth pain that is not relieved with at-home remedies such as applying a cold compress or taking over-the-counter medications, it is important to seek immediate professional dental attention. Ignoring the pain can lead to more serious medical issues that could be life-threatening.
2. Uncontrolled Bleeding
Uncontrolled bleeding could be a sign of a serious underlying medical issue such as gum disease or oral cancer. If your mouth is bleeding for more than 15 minutes without ceasing, call your dentist or a medical professional right away. Ignoring this symptom can lead to potentially life-threatening complications.
3. Tooth Abscess
A tooth abscess is an infection that occurs in the root of a tooth or around the jawbone, and it can be a life-threatening dental situation if not treated immediately. Symptoms of an abscess are intense pain and swelling in the affected area, fever, chills, facial swelling, bad breath, and/or a foul taste in your mouth.
4. Oral Infection
Oral infections, such as gingivitis or periodontitis, can be extremely dangerous if not treated promptly. These types of infections are caused by bacteria that build up between the teeth and gums and can lead to tooth loss, bone loss, and even systemic health problems if left untreated. Common symptoms of an oral infection include tender or swollen gums, bad breath, and loose or shifting teeth.
5. Broken Jaw
A broken jaw can occur due to trauma or injury, and it can cause significant pain and difficulty eating, speaking, and breathing. Symptoms of a broken jaw include swelling in the face, numbness in the affected area, misalignment of the teeth when you close your mouth, and difficulty opening your mouth all the way. If you believe that you have a broken jaw, seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible.
What Will Happen if I Don’t Seek Immediate Treatment?
If you do not seek immediate treatment for an emergency dental situation, the condition can worsen and cause further damage to your teeth, gums, and surrounding tissue. This can ultimately lead to more expensive and extensive treatments that could have been avoided with prompt care. In some cases, such as an infection or abscessed tooth, the bacteria that are causing the issue can spread to other areas of your body, leading to more serious health concerns.
Common dental treatments for urgent dental care include:
- Root Canal Procedure: This dental procedure is used to treat the infection caused by a decayed or abscessed tooth. The infected pulp is removed, the root canals are cleaned and disinfected, and the area is sealed with a dental filling material.
- Dental Extraction: Tooth extraction is a dental procedure that is used to remove a severely damaged, decayed, or infected tooth. The permanent tooth may need to be extracted if it cannot be saved with a root canal or other restorative treatment.
- Surgery: In some cases, such as a broken jaw or facial trauma, surgery may be necessary to repair the affected area. Surgery is typically performed by an oral surgeon in order to ensure the best possible outcome.
Dental Practices To Keep Your Mouth Healthy
Taking good care of your teeth and gums is essential for maintaining a healthy mouth and overall wellness. Here are some key dental practices to help you keep your teeth and gums in top condition:
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the back sides of the molars. Make sure to floss at least once per day, as it helps remove plaque and food particles that are stuck between the teeth.
- Regular dental check-ups: Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and oral exams. Regular dental visits will help to detect any issues early on so they can be treated before they become more serious.
- Make dietary changes: Eating a balanced diet and limiting sugary snacks and drinks will help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
- Wear a mouthguard: If you participate in contact sports, make sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury.
Contact Us For Urgent Dental Care!
Time is of the essence when it comes to dental emergencies, and seeking immediate care is the best way to avoid further damage and potential complications. At our dental practice, we offer same-day emergency appointments to ensure that you’re getting the care you need when you need it. Contact us today if you’re experiencing a dental emergency so that we can help get your oral health back on track.